Academics can no more “prove” that hopeless social conditions cause mental illness than they can “prove” the genetic theory, but we can prove one thing: everyone has a voice in this except the principal stakeholders.
Take for instance this excerpt, posted last month at the Guardian’s Comment is Free: (my bolds, and John Read is a dissident psychiatrist):
…Summarising 53 surveys from 17 nations, John Read demonstrates… that the public almost everywhere continues to believe that schizophrenia is more likely to be caused by environment than by genes or by deviant brain chemistry, pinpointing childhood maltreatment, poverty, recent traumas and bereavements. The same is true for other “mental illnesses”.
Read concludes that “the public may have a better grasp of the causes than some of us mental health experts. All the social causes they cite have recently been substantiated.” Indeed, Read’s book Models of Madness demonstrates that at least half of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia suffered severe sexual or physical abuse, and that poverty and urban living are independent causes.
Through their unwitting lapdogs – the psychiatric establishment and geneticists – drug companies teach that emotional distress is a chemical destiny only alterable by pills.
But in a sane world, while drugs are sometimes necessary in emergencies, they would hardly ever be used for more than a few months. Instead, there would be a massive effort by government to create a society that is not craziness-inducing and that provides talking cures for those already damaged by it.
…Regarding talking therapies, just think what could be done with £20bn spent on therapy and prevention. I am not talking about Richard Layard’s proposal to spread a thin layer of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) across the land, which could be as damaging as taking pills. All too often, CBT tutors the patient to tell a relentlessly positive story, to ignore many of their true feelings, just as drugs do. Not surprisingly, the studies show that once the teacher is no longer there, the depressed or anxious truth of our crazy world reasserts itself within a few months.
…Sanity is a much more useful notion than illness – emotional maturity should be the goal, not happiness.
What we urgently require is £20bn devoted to a Campaign for Real Therapy.
Yes, quite. Now this horseshit counter-argument posted yesterday:
Paragraphs of biobabble, strawman arguments, ad hominen attacks and shame on you, depression is not the same as feeling like shit, no, it is a serious medical condition:
It is insensitive to those with mental illnesses to dismiss the severity of their suffering in this way.
The general public may believe in the overwhelming influence of life experience as opposed to constitution in causing mental illnesses, but that does not mean that there isn’t good evidence to the contrary.
Only the most fanatical could continue to deny that genetics plays a significant part.
See? We’re calling “good evidence” nothing more than argument by assertion. So, to recap, to regard depression a genetic disease is proof you are sensitive enough to take it seriously. A Depressive who denies she is constitutionally defective is angling to let the terrorists win.
References to discredited theories blaming dysfunctional upbringing… as “the cause” of mental illnesses are relegated to historical footnotes.
Oh fuck you. Maybe if I was a pompous grad student with academic cred I could get in on these coffee house debates and put the finer touches on my own nature/nurture stance, but that debate has been around forever which makes it insoluble which makes it a distraction. From what? Don’t ask me! No, just keep arguing the merits of your positions rather than disrupt the debate itself and inquire as to why it exists.